If you have not read part one in this blog series, click here, and read it first, then pick up with this blog, the second and final in this assisted living marketing two-part series.
As discussed in part one of this blog, one of the biggest challenges we see here at Bild & Co for assisted living operators to effectively market their communities is budget constraints. Most do not have a financial allocation that is enough to hire a viable full-service marketing firm.
The result is half-assed, cookie-cutter work that has been repurposed from past projects and proves ineffective despite impressive reports that show a high number of impressions, clicks, and site visits- but that ultimately lead to nothing. It’s all smoke and mirrors and many operators have become hijacked by their marketing firm, unable to leave even if they want to (we had to pay a firm $20,000 just to exit a contract). In most of these cases, the problem stems from budget constraints. The operator needs a marketing firm, and the firm needs the new business so the two parties engage at a rate the operator can afford but not one the firm can produce results with: setting both up for failure.
If you can relate but also are thinking, “but I can’t increase our marketing budget,” keep reading. The reality is budgets have never been nimbler. We are in a revenue crisis with 20% of assisted living apartments sitting vacant. I am going to provide a road map you can model that will move you toward assisted living marketing independence and improved results. It’s up to you to execute!
1. Update Your Website and Do It Right, Not on the Cheap!
An assisted living community website is now the face of the company and typically the first thing prospective buyers see when considering you as a future living option. It is critical to review your website and check for the following elements (there are many, but these are just a few):
2. Create a Content Marketing Strategy That is Keyword Rich
Google loves content and its purpose is to answer questions for its billions of users who type in things such as, “assisted living in Palm Harbor, Florida” or “how do I know when my dad needs to move to an assisted living community?” or “how much does assisted living cost?” If you are not pushing out consistent content that educates your target demographic, seniors over 75 and their adult children, you are missing the single greatest opportunity to generate quality leads that will move. A few things to consider: Google likes at least 1,200 words and keywords are critical to improving your brand’s search presence. This means two things:
3. Learn About Backlinks and Pursue Them Like Crazy
Google likes to refer people to reputable sources. When a 55-year-old woman goes online at 6:00 pm and searches “assisted living that is affordable for my dad in Urbana, Ohio” it will rack and stack its answers based on an , rewarding those companies who it deems most credible with one of the top three to four listings presented in a search.
Like content, Google loves backlinks; in simple terms it means the company is credible. The more backlinks you have from credible websites to your own website, the more important your page is and thus the more exposure you get.
If you have an assisted living community and are writing good content, you can request other sites link to your site. Since most communities target a 15-mile radius, consider who has the most influence on your ideal resident or their caregiver and begin to target them. It might be your local hospital, geriatric physicians, caregiver support groups, and more. You will need to do some research on this and put in some effort, but it will go a long way toward moving you up in search engines.
4. Invest in a CRM that Interfaces with Your Websites
Nothing is more important in the assisted living sales process than timing. A life event will occur such as a fall and a family will begin their search, “assisted living Billings, Montana, affordable.” This person may be searching for the first time or for the fifth time! As we know, it’s typically a series of incidents that ultimately leads to a move. Yet a CRM with good artificial intelligence can tell you WHEN that person is looking if they have engaged with you in the past.
Meaning, if Michelle visited your website in November and then went cold yet is back on your site in February, you will know immediately and be sent an email. Rather than working an extensive database of leads with no specific strategy, a good CRM will help sales and marketing directors to prioritize by showing them what that individual lead is viewing or reading on your website, when they visited and even how they found you!
5. Develop a Strong Circle of Influence with Professionals Who Can Consistently Refer
Referred leads close four times faster than non-referred leads. You can continue to spend critically needed funds on campaigns that are not leading to move ins, or you can invest in a human being who can personally engage with and connect with professional referral sources in your market service area that are in desperate need of reliable partners who can solve their patient’s problems.
This means creating a dedicated program around professional referral development that teaches your sales and marketing directors how to identify ideal sources, how to get in front of them, what to say, how to build value regarding a reciprocal relationship, and how to maximize that relationship for the long-term.
This is not an easy undertaking, but it can yield results in less than 30 days. It is our single most effective strategy when taking on new development lease up projects. Training is vital or this initiative will fall flat and return no results. Done right and it’s a gold mine that is a win-win for everyone involved.
6. Free and Low Cost Resources You Can Leverage That Marketing Firms Will Not Tell You About
Be careful when using these tools, you can go so far down the rabbit hole of information that you never return, trust me, I’ve been there. Yet the information you gain will empower you to learn more and to self-educate to the point that you can properly hire the individual or firm needed to achieve your lead generation goals and understand what’s happening firsthand.
I’m far past that recommended 1,200 words and at 1,850, feel like I’m just getting started. If you are hungry to learn, in layman’s terms, how to gain control and better understand assisted living digital marketing, join me in our upcoming 4-WEEK ASSISTED LIVING MARKETING ACADEMY. This session is limited to just 15 people as all will be live on screen and engaging with me as we go on this journey together.